December 19, 2005 12:00 PM


Five-month-old Tai Shan (right), the first giant panda born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., since 1989, made his public debut Dec. 8. Eager panda-watchers snapped up 13,000 tickets within hours to see the 22-lb. cub. Recently Nicole Kidman, in town filming The Visiting, had a private one of her own with Tai Shan (pronounced tie-SHON, it means peaceful mountain). “She was absolutely enthralled and spent at least an hour watching him,” says assistant curator Lisa Stevens. Alas, Tai’s U.S. stay will be brief: He’ll head to China at age 2 to help breed more pandas there.


Mariska Hargitay, 41, who plays Det. Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU, and her husband, Peter Hermann, 38, a regular guest star on the NBC drama, are expecting their first child. The couple wed in 2004. “We are over the moon,” Hargitay tells PEOPLE….Actress Angela Bassett (Mr. 3000), 47, and her husband, actor Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), 45, are expecting twins via a surrogate mother. “The babies are due in a couple months,” says a source close to Bassett… Adam Sandler, 39, and his wife, actress-model Jackie, 31, are expecting a child this spring. They married in 2003.


Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell, 41, and his wife, Vicky, 27, a public relations exec, welcomed a second child, Christopher Nicholas, Dec. 5 in L.A. Their daughter Toni is 1.


Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh, 27, wed fellow beach volleyball player Casey Jennings, 30, Dec. 4 at a resort in Palm Springs, Calif. Walsh’s Olympic teammate Misty May was a bridesmaid. “There were so many toasts and so many tears shed,” says Walsh. “And people rocked out A till midnight.”


On Nov. 30 in Philadelphia, Antoine Riggins, 20, and Raul Rosario, 18, were charged with the murder of Terrell Pough, 18, a single father profiled in PEOPLE for being an outstanding teen dad (PEOPLE, Aug. 29, 2005). Pough was shot and killed coming home from work Nov. 17. Police say a motive is still unclear.


On Dec. 1 in Sarasota, Fla., a jury recommended that convicted murderer Joseph Smith, 39, face execution for the rape and murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia. The child’s abduction from a car wash parking lot was filmed by a surveillance camera last year (PEOPLE, Feb. 23, 2004). A judge will determine the official sentence as early as next month.


Lost costars Michelle Rodriguez, 27, and Cynthia Watros, 37, were both arrested for allegedly driving under the influence Dec. 1 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where they’re filming the show’s second season. The actresses, who were in separate vehicles, were taken into custody and posted bail early the next morning. This is not Rodriguez’s first driving mishap: Last year she pled no contest to a hit and run, driving with a suspended license and driving under the influence. Reps for both women had no comment.

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